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Paine v. Johnson

February 18, 2010

KATHLEEN PAINE, AS GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE OF CHRISTINA ROSE EILMAN, A DISABLED PERSON, PLAINTIFF ,
v.
OFFICER JEFFREY JOHNSON, OFFICER, RICHARD CASON, OFFICER ROSENDO MORENO, LIEUTENANT CARSON EARNEST, SERGEANT DAVID BERGLIND, DETENTION AIDE SHARON STOKES, OFFICER TERESA WILLIAMS, DETENTION AIDE CYNTHIA HUDSON, DETENTION AIDE CATONIA QUINN, OFFICER DEBORAH MABERY, OFFICER PAMELA SMITH, OFFICER BENITA MILLER, OFFICER PAULINE HEARD, AND CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS .



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge Northern District of Illinois

Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Kathleen Paine ("Paine"), as Guardian of the Estate of Christina Rose Eilman ("Eilman"), filed this suit against the City of Chicago and various members of the Chicago Police Department (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging violations of Eilman's constitutional rights and violations of federal and Illinois law. As more fully set forth in this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order dated November 7, 2008, Paine brings this suit on behalf of Eilman, her daughter, for injuries that Eilman incurred after the Chicago Police Department released her from custody. Paine has now moved to exclude all or parts of the proposed testimony of eight expert witnesses. Defendants have moved to exclude all or parts of the proposed testimony of seven expert witnesses.

For the reasons set forth herein, Paine's Motion to Bar the Opinion Testimony of Dr. Mindy Bradley-Engen is granted

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 ("Rule 702") and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and its progeny. See Ervin v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 492 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2007). Rule 702 states: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise." The Seventh Circuit has developed a three-step admissibility analysis for expert testimony under Rule 702 and Daubert. See Ervin, 492 F.3d at 904. First, "the witness must be qualified 'as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702). Second, "the expert's reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony must be scientifically reliable." Id. (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-93). Courts are, however, granted "broad latitude when [they] decide[] how to determine reliability." Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S 137, 142 (1999). Finally, the expert's testimony must be relevant, or "assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue." Ervin, 492 F.3d at 904.

DISCUSSION

I. Paine's Motion to Bar the Expert Testimony of Dr. Mindy Bradley-Engen

Dr. Mindy Bradley-Engen ("Bradley-Engen") is a sociologist with particular academic and personal expertise on the topics of exotic dance socialization and strip club culture. Bradley-Engen proposes to testify that certain of Eilman's behaviors during her time in Chicago "are consistent with one's involvement in strip clubs and working as an exotic dancer (aka stripper)" and that some of Eilman's actions were "characteristically similar to descriptions of stripper behavior as described in the literature." (R. 575, Ex. A, Expert Report of Dr. Mindy Bradley-Engen, at 2, 5.) Social science experts may be permitted to testify as to the practices of individuals within a particular culture. See Dang Vang v. Vang Xiong X. Toyed, 944 F.2d 476, 481 (9th Cir. 1991) (expert anthropological testimony properly admitted in order "to assist the trier of fact to understand certain behavior"). However, Paine challenges Bradley-Engen's testimony as unreliable, not based on sufficient facts or data, and irrelevant.

A. Qualifications

Paine does not contest Bradley-Engen's qualifications as an expert sociologist. A review of her resume reveals that she has a doctorate in sociology and has published and presented extensively on the topics of exotic dance and "adult careers." (See R. 615, Ex. Q, Curriculum Vitae of Mindy S. Bradley-Engen, Ph.D.)Accordingly, the Court finds her qualified to testify as an expert sociologist on this topic.

B. Methodology

Paine challenges Bradley-Engen's proposed conclusion on methodological grounds.The conclusions of social science experts must meet the same standardsas those of experts in the hard scientists, although "the measure of intellectual rigor will vary by the field of expertise . . . ." Tyus v. Urban Search Mgmt., 102 F.3d 256, 263 (7th Cir. 1996). That means that the Court must consider whether Bradley-Engen's conclusions are testable, subjected to peer review or publication, produced by a reliable method using some discernable technique, and the result of a generally accepted methodology or process. See Zenith Electronics Corp. v. WH-TV Broadcasting Corp., 395 F.3d 416, 418 (7th Cir. 2005).

Here, Bradley-Engen's testimony about the cultural traits of exotic dancers is based upon a contested assumption that Eilman's work experience in this area was sufficient to "socialize" her into the exotic-dance culture such that she could be expected to demonstrate the traits of that culture. This testimony is potentially helpful to the jury because social scientists have the ability to show jurors "that ...


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